THIS ONE SIMPLE MISTAKE HAS COST ME HUNDREDS OF DOLLARS!
I do IPS for my full sessions. What does that mean? It means that when a session is done, I edit and set up a date for the client to view their edits in person, with me by their side, to help them choose prints and products that they want. This generally helps increase your sales and is great if you have the time, space and desire to bond more with clients by giving them a full experience. There's nothing wrong with doing a session and emailing the link to the gallery online and then not seeing the client again for a year or two. Why do I do IPS? The obvious answer would be to say I want more money. I mean, who doesn't love a higher sale, right?! But there are so many other reasons to do IPS. Let me share a few before I tell you what mistake I made with my most recent mini sessions that has literally cost me hundreds of dollars.
1. I really do love spending more time with my clients. When I finish a session, I walk away feeling like I've made a new friend. Sometimes I've gone through their closet to help them choose wardrobe for everyone, I've given mom or the senior the number of my amazing hair and make up gal, I've picked stray hairs off your face or chest and often times I've had to sing and dance for a shot...and I'm not really good at either singing or dancing. So the chance to spend even more time with my new friends is awesome! I like seeing the expressions clients make when they see their images. I like helping them make decisions about what to order. I like helping people understand that a 5x7 print on it's own was never meant to hang above a couch.
2. Educating people on what they can do with their images, beyond prints, is something that IPS was meant for. I can show them albums and canvas wraps and mounted prints and anything else I think is worth selling. They can touch the products, see what good quality they are and why I charge more than Walgreen's for a print. I don't have to defend my pricing. Instead, by doing IPS, I'm given the chance to educate clients. And the more they know and understand, the more likely they are to refer me to someone else.
3. IPS helps me assess the needs of my clients and meet those needs. This is so hard to do when you're just sending out a link to your client and either giving them all the digital files in that gallery or telling them to write down their order and get back to you. With IPS, I listen to if they are wanting wall art, if they have a specific wall to display their new images, do they want an album to view so many images at once, do they need to buy prints for family and if yes, I can help with which images and size.
So, after knowing all of this and how much I believe in IPS, let me share my huge recent mistake. I decided to do IPS for my unicorn mini sessions. The cost of the session came with an 11x14 print. So I wanted to help clients choose just the right print and help them choose other items, like an album or a canvas wrap. I also wanted to increase my profit because my cost to do these sessions was so high. I had to pay the venue, pay for the unicorn, rent dresses and had a cooler of water bottles (for myself and clients) for the 2 days I did the sessions. The bottom line for profit broke down to something like $10.00 per session. Yikes! But, knowing I would have IPS sessions with each one, I figured (hoped and crossed my fingers) that I would make my profit during the ordering sessions.
That was, until I saw my mistake. When I sent out a guide for these sessions to each client, it included collection pricing, pricing for boutique items and prints. Those things should always be included so that you don't have a client that gets sticker shock. My 3 collections were very reasonable priced. Each included digital files and prints. Nobody was expected to purchase anything from these sessions, but come on, your daughter in a beautiful dress with a unicorn? Most moms would want more than just the 11x14 print that came with the fee they already paid. You would think most would want the digital files and a handful of prints or an album, right? Well, that's what was included in my top collection. All the edited digital files, some prints and an 8x8 album. This collection was the only way you could get all of the digital files.
Or so I thought. See, here's where my mistake comes in. I didn't fully proof my pricing sheets that I sent out. I used the pricing sheet that was from another, older round of mini sessions. On the page for print pricing, was the option to purchase all of the edited images for $150.00. Yep, I was pretty much giving them away. I never intended for that to be an option. I wanted clients to only be able to get those by purchasing my top collection. So, guess what every single client has ordered? And made comments like, "I'm so excited because I love Shutterfly and now I can order prints for everyone and make a book myself." and "Who knows if I'll ever end up printing any, I'm bad about getting the disc and putting it in a drawer."
I kind of wanted to scream, or cry...or both to be honest. I have been kicking myself for this mistake! I can't change what I'm offering because I sent it out to all the clients from those mini sessions and that wouldn't be right. But I can promise you this, it's been removed and changed for upcoming mini sessions! I have lost hundreds of dollars because of this mistake.
Photographers, take the time to proof what you send clients and double check your pricing. Make sure that what you are charging will make you a profit. Review everything before you send it! Our main purpose for starting Blush was to educate photographers. And sometimes that means making ourselves vulnerable and sharing not just our knowledge of successes, but also our setbacks. After all, it's those setbacks or mistakes that we learn the most from, so why not share them and hope that in doing so, someone else won't make the same mistake.